Obtaining Employment as a Pharmacy Tech

Once you've earned your pharmacy technician certification, it's time to start looking for your first job in the field. The demand for pharmacy technicians remains strong throughout the United States, but you will face some challenges as a new graduate without the benefit of previous work experience.

A well written resume is essential to finding a job. Highlight your pharmacy technician certification, as well as the training program you attended. List any of your volunteer activities or internships that are related to the health care field, such as working at the local hospital or assisted-living facility. Proofread your resume carefully to make sure there are no typographical errors. (Visit this site to learn how.)

Choose references who can speak to your character and reliability as an employee. If you are very young and do not have much in the way of previous work experience, it's acceptable to list a teacher, coach, or supervisor of an after-school activity as a reference. Regardless of who you select, remember to first ask if the person is willing to be a reference for you. You don't want to put someone on the spot if a potential employer happens to call unexpectedly.

Many pharmacy technicians work in places that require uniforms on a daily basis. However, when you go on a job interview, it's important to dress professionally. You don't necessarily need to wear a suit and tie to interview for a job as a pharmacy technician, but you will want to wear nice slacks or a skirt and a dress shirt. Make sure you are clean and well groomed. For women, jewelry should be kept to a minimum. When in doubt, it's best to be conservative with your appearance. The focus should remain on you and your professional qualifications.

Resume

Resume

Having a well-written resume is an important part of the job-hunting process. When you're searching for a pharmacy technician position, you'll want to make sure your resume highlights your skills and qualifications.

Resume Writing Tips

Review the job description carefully when you are writing your resume. You want your resume to contain the same keywords that are used in the job description in order to convince the hiring manager that you are a good fit for the position. Even if this is your first time applying for a pharmacy technician position, you can describe your previous employment in terms of transferable skills that relate to your pharmacy career. For example:

  • Maintaining client confidentiality
  • Using computers to perform administrative tasks
  • Working with a culturally diverse customer base
  • Controlling inventory

Be as specific as possible when describing your job accomplishments. Provide numbers, percentages, dollar totals, and other quantifiable details when they are available. For example, if you were a shift supervisor at a retail store, it would be good to tell how many people reported to you and how much merchandise your store sold in a typical day.

Arrange the information on your resume so that the most important facts are presented first. If you are a new graduate, your training, certification date, and any internship or volunteer experience is more important than a part-time job you had at a fast-food restaurant. However, if you have five years of experience as a pharmacy technician, your work history is more important than where you earned your certificate, diploma, or associate's degree.

Resumes are often written using bold headings and bulleted job descriptions in order to make the document easier to scan. Since a hiring manager may receive hundreds of resumes for one job opening, it's not possible to spend much time reviewing each one. Word processing programs such as Microsoft Word have templates for resume writing that you can use to help with the formatting of your document.

A resume for a pharmacy technician position should not be more than one page in length. Even if you're changing careers and have an extensive work history in another field, you do not need to list every school you've attended or every job you have had. A resume is meant to be a summary of your qualifications as they relate to a specific job, not a complete history of your professional career.

Proofread Carefully

Once you've prepared your resume, proofread the document carefully. You don't want to be passed over for a position simply because you've made an embarrassing typographical error. If your pharmacy technician certification training program offers job placement assistance, see if someone is available to review your resume. Otherwise, ask several friends or family members to help you check for errors.

Plain Text Resumes

Ideally, you should have two versions of your resume. You will want to have a traditional paper resume and a plain text version of your resume that you can send via email or use to apply to online job postings through a company's website.

To create a plain text resume:

  1. Use your word processing software's "Save" menu to select the "Plain Text" or "Notepad" option.
  2. Replace bullet points with an asterisk or a dash.
  3. Use capital letters to create headings.
  4. Check to make sure lines are no more than 65 characters in length, since many email programs will create odd line breaks if your resume is longer than this.
  5. Test your work by emailing a copy of your resume to a few friends who use different email service providers.

Job Interviews

National Pharmacy Technician Association

When you're searching for a pharmacy technician position, the prospect of sitting through multiple job interviews can seem overwhelming. While it's natural to feel apprehensive about the interviewing process, keeping in mind a few simple tips can increase your chances of getting a job offer that fits your professional goals.

Dressing for Your Job Interview

In many cases, pharmacy technicians are required to wear uniforms when they are at work. However, this does not mean you can show up for your job interview in whatever attire you happen to be wearing. You should aim for a conservative, business casual look. Choose slacks or a shirt in a color such as black, gray, tan, or navy. Wear a dress shirt or nice blouse. Keep accessories to a minimum, such as a nice watch or a pair of small gold hoop earrings. At your job interview, you want the focus to be on your qualifications and not your physical appearance.

Answering Interview Questions

The best way to overcome any nervousness associated with a job interview is to practice giving answers to common interview questions. If you know how to speak authoritatively about your education, work experience, and professional goals, you won't be caught off guard during the interview process.

Examples of some of the types of questions you may be asked at your job interview include:

  • Why did you decide to earn your pharmacy technician certification?
  • What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an employee?
  • How would you handle a disagreement with a coworker?
  • How would you handle a patient who is being rude or physically aggressive?
  • Have you ever been asked to leave a previous position? If, so, why?
  • Why do you want to work for our pharmacy?
  • Why would you be an asset to our organization?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Do you consider yourself to be a successful person?

When answering job interview questions, you should keep your answers succinct and relevant to the question at hand. Do not speak poorly about previous employers or the quality of your professional training; your goal is to show that you have a positive attitude.

Interview questions regarding national origin, date of birth, marital status, sexual orientation, or physical condition are illegal under federal law. However, employers at smaller companies will sometimes ask inappropriate questions simply because they are unfamiliar with appropriate hiring procedures. If you are asked a question that is illegal, try to answer the general intent of the question and then tactfully change the subject. For example, a question about your physical condition may indicate that the employer is considered about your ability to lift heavy boxes or stand for long periods of time.

After the Interview

After your job interview, it is customary to thank your interviewer for taking the time to speak with you and to reaffirm your interest in the position. A written thank-you note is preferred, but you may also email or call if you don't believe a note would arrive in time for the hiring decision.

References

While obtaining pharmacy technician certification is an important part of entering this career field, do not underestimate the importance of solid references when you are seeking employment.

Choosing Appropriate References

A reference is someone who can vouch for your character, work ethic, professional skills, and value as an employee. The best references are former employers or coworkers. For young people who don't have previous work experience, a teacher, coach, or supervisor of an extracurricular activity is the best choice. Your references should not include:

  • People to whom you are related
  • People who have not been in contact with you for several months
  • People who may not say positive things about you
  • People who can't speak authoritatively about your qualifications for the position

When listing someone as a reference for pharmacy technician position, you will need to be able to provide:

  • Full name
  • Job title
  • Place of employment
  • Business address
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • The length of time you have known the person
  • The nature of your relationship, such as whether the person is a former coworker or a supervisor

Preparing Your References

When choosing references for a pharmacy technician position, it is essential that you ask for permission before giving out someone's contact information. You do not want your references to be caught off guard when a potential employer calls. Asking for permission also gives you a chance to update your reference on your most recent accomplishments.

In some cases, people ask their references to prepare a generic letter of recommendation. While this can give you a good idea of how your reference feels about your abilities as a pharmacy technician, these types of letters seldom have much weight with a potential employer. Generally, the person making the hiring decision will want the opportunity to ask specific questions that relate to the position for which you are applying.

If you sense any hesitation from a potential reference, it's best to choose a different person to list on your job application. A reference who can't provide an enthusiastic recommendation will only hurt your chances of being offered a pharmacy technician position.

If you've been seeking employment for several months and have not found a suitable position, you may have a problem with the people you've selected to serve as your references. Consider having a friend contact your references pretending to be a potential employer. If you don't feel the information your references is providing accurately reflects your professional skills, it's time to revise this part of your resume.

Maintaining Good Relationships

Once you receive a job offer, it's a good idea to call your references to tell them you've found employment and to thank them for their assistance. Some people send a small gift as a token of their appreciation, but this is not necessary and can be frowned upon in certain types of companies. A sincere expression of your gratitude is sufficient.

Volunteering

If you're looking for a job as a pharmacy technician, volunteering at a hospital, health clinic, or community pharmacy can be a great way to build your resume. Volunteers are often in high demand at these organizations due to budgetary constraints.

Finding Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer opportunities are generally listed on an organization's website and coordinated through the volunteer services department. Pharmacy technician training programs may also maintain a list of places seeking volunteers.

In most cases, the pharmacy will have strict requirements for who is eligible to volunteer. Common requirements include:

  • Being at least 18 years of age
  • Being able to pass a criminal background check
  • Being currently enrolled in a pharmacy technician training program
  • Being registered with the State Board of Pharmacy as an intern
  • Attending an orientation or training seminar regarding pharmacy policies

Places that accept pharmacy volunteers usually have separate programs for pharmacy technicians and students who are studying to become licensed pharmacists. Read all application materials carefully to make sure you understand the program for which you are applying.

Volunteer Duties

Since the role of a volunteer is more flexible than participating in a structured internship program, this can be a good way for nontraditional pharmacy technician students to get experience in the field.

The schedule of a volunteer is usually fairly open, although most pharmacies are in need of people who can work on nights, weekends, and holidays. Pharmacy technician volunteers assist with tasks such as:

  • Answering phones
  • Returning medications to shelves
  • Checking prescription expiration dates
  • Filing filled prescriptions
  • Assisting with miscellaneous office duties

Unfortunately, pharmacy volunteers can't prepare prescriptions. In order to be able to legally complete this task, you need to have a pharmacy technician certification. For this reason, obtaining a pharmacy technician certification is often one of the requirements for volunteers in the licensed pharmacist program.

Tips for a Successful Volunteer Experience

To make the most of your time as a pharmacy volunteer, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Treat the volunteer position with the same respect you would give a paying job. When you're scheduled to work, be on time. Complete all tasks to the best of your ability.
  • Remember that respecting patient confidentiality is extremely important. You should never share any personal information you discover during your time as a volunteer.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. Hospitals and clinics understand that the primary reason many people volunteer in the pharmacy area is to get work experience. If you don't understand something or you want to know more about what working as a pharmacy technician is like, speak up!
  • If you're planning to list your volunteer experience on your resume, remember to ask permission before giving out your supervisor's contact information for a reference. You don't want him to be caught off guard if a hiring manager calls.

Last Updated: 08/20/2013